The passage of the coalition’s controversial NHS reforms would prove to be a “cause of significant regret”, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
The bitter 14-month parliamentary battle finally came to an end last night after the government comfortably fended off a desperate attempt by Labour to delay the legislation.
MPs then approved the last amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill - leaving the way clear for Royal Assent to be granted before Parliament starts its Easter recess next week.
But while there was jubilation among Tory and Liberal Democrat ministers, opponents have warned that the problems are only just beginning.
RCN chief executive and general secretary Dr Peter Carter described the reforms as “deeply flawed”.
He said: “We have achieved some concessions which make the Bill a different piece of legislation from that which first appeared, but our real concerns about the future of the NHS have not been heeded.
“It is now our responsibility to patients to do everything we can to ensure that the health service runs as best as it can despite the massive upheaval that this Bill will bring.
“We intend to work with trusts, regulators and other bodies but our fear is that in the fullness of time this Bill will be a cause of significant regret.
“Perhaps most importantly we will be supporting nurses who are going to have to pick up the pieces and still deliver the best care they can for patients through this extremely difficult time of change.”
When the Cabinet met yesterday, ministers from both parties banged the table to celebrate news that the reforms had finally cleared the House of Lords.